I am a comic book collector. I don’t spend thousands on single issues and I don’t have extensive runs of comics that were published years before I was born, but I am a collector. I cherish the few seconds it takes for me to take a brand new comic out of its boarded bag. I take in its wonderful aroma like it’s some sort of drug. I gently cradle it in my arms like a newborn baby (with staples on its spine), slowly turning its pages with reverence. I take care of my comic books. I read them, I store them, I protect them. I am a comic book collector and rabid fan of printed sequential art.
I take my comics very seriously. Sure, most of my comics have people in skintight costumes punching each other IN THE FACE, but it’s serious business. I’ve been collecting comics since the early ’90s so I have established reading and collecting habits. That’s about two decades of managing a collection of paper and ink, yo. You’d think that I would fight the idea of transitioning to all-digital, but I surprised even myself when I decided to switch to a completely digital comics way of life.
It wasn’t a quick decision. I can’t remember when I was first introduced to digital comics, but I do know it was not the legal kind. I was buying so many comics per week at the time but I still felt I needed scanned comics in my life because I wanted to have EVERYTHING. I bought the comics that I wanted to collect and I downloaded others just so I could read the other new releases without going broke. It was a pretty nice set-up. Eventually, I completely relinquished myself over to the dark side and stopped buying print altogether. Boo me, yes.
I am a monster for committing the crime of downloading scans. I’m sorry!
The problem with downloading scans of comics is that when one or more of the uploaders miss a week, maybe due to technical or personal issues, you don’t get your comics too. Maybe you can find other uploaders but quality scans are not so common. But hey, it’s free. I managed to build a vast library of scanned comics because I’m a sick, sick hoarder of things. I didn’t get the chance to read all of it, though. Early last year, the external hard drive where I stored those scanned comics stopped working. I took that as a sign that the comics gods are angry with me and my illegal shenanigans.
I found my way back to physical comics around the same time I started playing around with Comixology on my smartphone. I’ve downloaded a few free comics from service when it was still new but I didn’t really get to explore the app and its store until last year, particularly when they did the whole Marvel #1 thing which was insane. I got 600+ free Marvel #1 comics from that deal and that’s how I started to take digital comics seriously. I wasn’t completely sold, though.
You can’t smell digital comics. You can’t practice the art of boarding, bagging, and stacking them in neat piles or in longboxes which was highly cathartic for me because, I don’t know, I’m weird? You can’t experience the pure joy of lending your comics to your friends so you can discuss that awesome moment when Colossus returned from the dead in Astonishing X-Men #4 by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. There was no way I’d completely ditch physical comics for digital ones. I was hilariously mistaken.
Digital comics slowly won me over mostly because of the image quality on my smartphone and the fact that I didn’t need to get off my fat ass to get new comics. Eventually, I wanted to experience digital comics on a bigger screen, so I bought a tablet. Yes, my main driving force for buying my Nexus 10 was comics. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. While I giggled every single time I opened a new digital comic in the Comixology app, it was always followed by a strong longing for paper.
So I came up with a plan that would satisfy the purist collector in me as well as the lazy reader who just wants to read comics in the most convenient way possible. I kept buying a few titles that I considered must-buys, I bought digital back issues on sale from Comixology which are usually at least 50% cheaper than their physical counterparts, and I still downloaded some scans just to keep up with the other titles. It was a good plan… nay, it was a great plan. But all plans crumble against an Act of God.
Back in August 2013, the tag team of Typhoon Maring and the south-west monsoon (Habagat) caused flooding in our area. The water rose crazy quick and entered our house in asshole proportions. A lot of our things were damaged, including electronics, vehicles, photos, old love letters, and a longbox of some of my favorite comics. For someone who puts sentimental value on almost everything he owns, it was a devastating time for me. The whole ordeal forced me to take a long, hard look at the amount of space required for keeping a large collection of bagged and boarded comics, as well as the hassle of moving it around when a typhoon decides to flood our house with water, mud, and all sorts of debris. I stopped buying physical comics after that.
Towards the end of 2013, I started easing myself into a 100% digital comics reading habit. I devoured a combination of scans and digital comics on sale. In a strange twist of Internet fate, new quality scans stopped coming in. I fell behind on new comics. Such tragedy, I know. So by the start of the new year, I have completely sworn off downloading scans and I have amassed a decent collection of legitimate digital comics.
This week, the first week of 2014 with new releases, I bought my first batch of new comics from Comixology. I’ve purchased a couple of new releases before, but that was just me testing the waters. This week, I dive right into the deep end. My new comics haul this week consists of 7 issues, all at full cover price, mostly $3.99 joints that include 3 new Marvel NOW! titles. I’m used to paying that kind of money and going home with a heavy bag of comics, but this time, I’m just staring at a 10-inch screen. I feel dirty… and quite satisfied.
I am strangely at peace with this new arrangement. I’m going to miss the smell of new comics and the strange tranquility of sitting in the middle of boxes and stacks of comics, but I’m happily moving on to a new level of reading comics. Digital is not as romantic as print, but I can learn to love it, and I think I’m already falling in love with it. I’m a fan of finding romance in the most unlikely places and things, so I’m giving this man-digital comics relationship a shot. I am a digital comic book collector and rabid fan of digital sequential art.
BUT IF THE COMICS GODS FUCK WITH MY SHIT AGAIN, I FUCKING SWEAR… I’m sorry. Bye.